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Archibald Yell
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Archibald Yell

Archibald Yell (9 August 179723 February 1847) was a member of the United States House of Representatives, Governor of the State of Arkansas, and a Brigadier General in the United States Army who served in the Mexican War and War of 1812.

Archibald Yell was born in North Carolina and moved to Bedford County, Tennessee in his youth.

Yell participated in the war against the Cherokee Indians in 1813 and 1814 under Andrew Jackson. In 1814 and 1815 he served with Jackson in Louisiana during the War of 1812 and participated in the Battle of New Orleans.

Yell returned to Tennessee and was admitted to the bar in Fayetteville, Tennessee. In 1818 he joined Jackson's army during the First Seminole War in Florida.

Yell became a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives and received several federal appointments during the Jackson administration. He was appointed to head the Federal land office in Little Rock, Arkansas during 1831 and in 1835 received an appointment as a territorial judge. Yell was offered the governorship of the territory of Florida in 1832 but declined. Yell is reported to have singlehandedly retrieved a criminal from a local saloon and physically brought him to his court.

Yell was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1836 when statehood was granted and served until 1839. While in Washington he was a strong supporter of Texas statehood and favored a stronger military.

Yell was a strong supporter and personal friend of President James K. Polk. Just prior to taking office in 1835 Polk sent Yell to Texas to advocate for Texas annexation to the Union.

In 1840 Yell was elected Governor of Arkansas and focused on internal improvements and better control of banks. He was also a supporter of public education.

In 1844 Yell resigned his post as governor to run again for Congress. Yell is reported to have been the consummate campaigner. At one stop during the campaign he is reported to have won a shooting match, donated the meat to the poor, and bought a jug of whiskey for the crowd.

Soon after taking his seat in Congress the Mexican War broke out and Yell returned to Arkansas and formed the 1st Arkansas Volunteer Cavalry. Yell's cavalry compiled a record of insubordination. On 23 February 1847 Yell fell in combat at the Battle of Buena Vista. Several other famous Arkansans served under Yell in Mexico including future governor John Selden Roane, and future Confederate Generals Albert Pike and James Fleming Fagan.

Yell formed the first Masonic lodge in Arkansas at Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Yell was originally buried on the field where he fell at Buena Vista. His body was soon removed and returned to Arkansas for burial at Waxhaws Cemetery in Fayetteville. When Evergreen Cemetery was established his body was moved permanently to the Masonic section of that cemetery.

Yell County, Arkansas and the town of Yellville, Arkansas are both named for Archibald Yell. During the American Civil War a Confederate unit named after Yell was formed in Helena, Arkansas and known as the "Yell Rifles." Yell's nephew James Yell became a Major General of the Arkansas state militia during the Civil War.

Preceded by :
James Sevier Conway
Governor of Arkansas
1840-1844
Succeeded by:
Samuel Adams